‘Art of Caring’ to benefit student-run Phillips neighborhood clinic

The free clinic is working to expand its services and availability.

Joy Petersen

Many times, church basements provide space for meetings, pot luck dinners and nursery care, but the Oliver Presbyterian Church in south Minneapolis hosts a free clinic run by University health-care students.

In hopes of recruiting new supervising physicians and raising money for the Phillips Neighborhood Clinic, the third annual “The Art of Caring” benefit will be held today from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Weisman Art Museum.

The clinic, located in the Phillips neighborhood, reopened on June 11 after being closed from January through May for an administrative overhaul, clinic co-chairwoman and University medical student Kirsten Klevan said.

Klevan said she hopes the benefit will allow the clinic to be open another night during the week – it’s only open Monday nights for three hours – while improving the care and number of prescription medications the clinic carries.

The clinic allows around 100 University students in different health-care fields to practice supervised medicine and work with the under-cared-for and underinsured.

The free, student-run clinic began during the summer of 2003, she said. It’s now overseen by the University Medical School and the University of Minnesota Physicians medical group.

Sonali Meyer, the clinic’s public relations chairwoman and University medical student, said community residents can receive primary care at the clinic, including vaccinations, women’s health exams, urine testing and chronic illness counseling.

Patients aren’t required to have insurance or pay for their visits, Meyer said.

On a Monday night when the clinic is open, between eight and 10 patients usually come, said Christie Martin, a University graduate student and the clinic’s operations chairwoman.

Care is most often given to adults, she said.

Martin said she works with clinic volunteers to improve efficiency and care for patients.

Heidi Erickson, community relations co-chairwoman and University medical student, said the clinic’s goal is to provide accessible, culturally appropriate health care and education to the diverse population in the neighborhood.

“Anybody can go in and provide a certain level of care to a patient population,” she said, “but to provide the best care, you have to know your population.”

To do that, the clinic’s board created opportunities in the community beyond the weekly clinic in which volunteers can participate.

Volunteers are now asked to participate in at least three community events per semester, Erickson said, which include things like the Father Project, which can help fathers repair relationships with and regain custody of their children, and Centro, in which students and community members tutor residents to help them attain an elementary education or high school diploma.

On average, the University students volunteer 10 to 12 hours per semester, but some get involved in everything, Erickson said.

After a patient receives care at the clinic, he or she has the opportunity to become part of the Community Advisory Board.

The Board allows the community members to meet with the clinic board members to inform them of the community’s needs, and assess if the clinic is meeting those needs.

Erickson said the Board has allowed many community groups to network with the clinic, which benefits the clinic by providing more services to the community.

“Building that support and network of services and being able to better direct patients or people to any type of service they need Ö is the biggest achievement of that Board,” she said.